Baldwin Loop Hiking Trail
★★★☆☆ Easy / Sedona Area:
With relaxed effort, the Baldwin Loop Hiking Trail’s mildly undulating path, blends spectacular views of Sedona’s iconic Cathedral Rock with creekside swimming options. Circling the base of the wind-carved Red Rock Butte, and beneath the shadows of Cathedral Rock, this scenic trail moves from the marshy habitat of the banks of Oak Creek to the dry arroyos situated between desert canyons.
TRAILHEAD: Baldwin Trail Parking Area near end of verde valley school road, sedona • DIFFICULTY: easy • DISTANCE: 1.6 MILE loop • APPROX. TIME: 1 – 1.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 150 FEET (11 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 200-250 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: sept. – may • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: YES • FACILITIES: YES (but no water) • FEES: RED ROCK ($5 DAILY, $15 WEEKLY, $20 ANNUAL) OR NATIONAL PARK PASS ($85 ANNUAL) REQUIRED
Starting across the road from the trail head parking area – near the end of Verde Valley School Road – hikers can opt to head either right or left on the easy Baldwin Hiking Loop Trail. Heading left, the first half-mile of the trail receives the most traffic (due to its access to the Templeton Trail which, in turn, leads to the popular Cathedral Rock Trail). Despite passing a few hikers, the trail’s ultra-soft, pine-scented pathway and quiet vistas lend a relaxed feel. A bit further along, the left side of the trail suddenly turns bright green – where it the flanks the grassy, treelined banks of Oak Creek. Foot trails scamper off to Summer friendly swimming spots nestled along Oak Creek (including Sedona’s popular stone banked “Hobo Beach” – just a quick wade across the creek in Forest Park). While directly ahead, Cathedral Rock looms dramatically across the skyline.
As the Baldwin Hiking Loop Trail curves away from Oak Creek and into the small valley between Cathedral Rock and Red Rock Butte, the landscape returns to an iconic Sedona one: complete with arroyos, scrub pines and sculpted canyon walls. The skyward views of Cathedral rock remain constant and impressive. And, from this point on, there are very few hikers on the trail (they don’t know what they are missing!). The path gently moves up and down rolling hills and mini, cactus-lined canyons make appearances along the trail.
Just prior to the final curve back towards the trail head, the town of Oak Creek comes briefly into view – followed by long beautifully vistas of far off Wilson Mountain. For a short easy jaunt these views are a nice reward.
Although its easy to see the hikers standing up in the saddle of Cathedral Rock from the Baldwin Hiking Loop Trail, it’s really hard for them to see you! So go ahead, make a silly face or gesture. They’ll never know.
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and AZ-179, take AZ-179 towards Sedona for 7.4 miles to the Verde Valley School Road Roundabout. Turn left/west onto Verde Valley School Road and continue approximately 5.5 miles to the Trailhead Parking lot on the left side of the road. Note: Verde Valley School Road becomes a well graded, car friendly, dirt road after approximately 4 miles.
- Butte, Canyon, Cathedral Rock, Dayhike, Easy, Family Friendly, Northern Arizona, Oak Creek, Pet Friendly, Sedona
- May 9, 2015